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Peruvian bishops condemn mass killing by the Shining Path

May 25, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Counterterrorism operations in Peru’s Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro. Credit: Ministerio de Defensa del Perú via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Ayacucho, Peru, May 25, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

The president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference has condemned Sunday’s killing of 16 persons by the Shining Path, a communist rebel group.

The May 23 attack took place in San Miguel del Ene in the Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro, about 180 miles north of Ayacucho.

The bodies of those killed were found in bars. They had bullet holes in them, and some were burned. Earlier reports indicated 14 or 18 persons had been killed, but Peru’s defense minister has confirmed that there were 16 victims.

The bodies were found with leaflets saying the Shining Path would “Clean out Vraem and Peru of the hangouts of bad actors, parasites and corrupt people,” and urged against voting in the  upcoming general election, and particularly against voting for Keiko Fujimori.

Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo said May 24, “I express my profound condemnation of the cruel murders of 14 people, including women, children and youths, that took place in Vraem by Shining Path terrorists led by Víctor Quispe Palomino. No one has the right to take the life of any person. Life is sacred.”

The archbishop said that “this tragic event reminds us of the time of barbarism and terror that the country went through for more than 20 years, which resulted in more than 70,000 deaths and a large number of disappeared.”

Archbishop Cabrejos emphasized that it’s time to say “never again to terrorism. Never again violence in Peru, from whatever quarter. Our country has the right to live in peace and build a future that benefits everyone.”

“I pray to God for the eternal repose of these victims, so their families may find peace and consolation, and that there be a thorough investigation,” he concluded.

The Militarized Communist Party of Peru is the Shining Path group active in the Vraem, a remote, coca producing region of the country.

The second round of Peru’s general election is due to be held June 6. Vying for president are Pedro Castillo of Free Peru, a socialist party, and Keiko Fujimori of Popular Force. 

Keiko is the daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, whose administration largely defeated the Shining Path insurgency in the 1990s.

The Shining Path was founded in the 1960s, and began armed conflict in 1980. Tens of thousands have died in the ensuing violence. 

Three European priests who were killed by the Shining Path were recognized as martyrs by the Holy See in 2015. 

Fathers Michele Tomaszek and Zbigneo Strzalkowski of the Conventual Friars Minor were killed Aug. 9, 1991, by the Shining Path. Both worked in Pariacoto in the Peruvian Andes, and their work to help the poor was considered a threat by the terrorists, who saw their efforts to recruit new members thwarted.

Father Alessandro Dordi was also working in the Peruvian Andes. He was shot dead by Shining Path militants Aug. 25, 1991.


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Bishops conference condemns Peru vaccine scandal

February 19, 2021 CNA Daily News 1

Lima, Peru, Feb 19, 2021 / 03:55 pm (CNA).- The Peruvian bishops’ conference on Thursday condemned the country’s vaccine scandal, in which hundreds of prominent figures took advantage of their positions to receive coronavirus vaccination out of turn.

Among those who received early vaccination is Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Peru.

In a Feb. 18 statement the Peruvian bishops censured the misuse “of the vaccines entrusted to our authorities for the sake of research and the health of all Peruvians.” The conference said that “this shows a new face of the monster of corruption and the crisis in ethics and values.”

“It’s inconceivable that doctors, nurses, police, public servants and so many other volunteers should continue to die while a callous group seeks its own interests,” the bishops said, demanding that “these actions be duly investigated and punished.”

This week a list was published of 487 people who were vaccinated early with doses from the Chinese company Sinopharm. These doses accompanied ones that were being used in clinical trials.

Among those who received the early doses from Sinopharm are former president Martín Vizcarra, his wife, and his brother. Vizcarra was removed from office by the parliament over unrelated corruption allegations in November 2020.

The former Minister of Foreign Relations, Elizabeth Astete, and the former director of Science and Technology of the same ministry, are on the list as well.

The list also includes the former Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, who had said that she would be the last to be vaccinated in the healthcare sector; two former vice ministers; and Dr. Germán Málaga Rodríguez, who directed the Sinopharm vaccine trials at Cayetano Heredia University.

The scandal has led to the resignation of the principal authorities of the university, and the suspension of Malaga as coordinator of the vaccine project.

Others who have been vaccinated include Alejandro Aguinaga, a candidate for Congress and the doctor of former President Alberto Fujimori; the former Minister of Health Patricia García, as well as other officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and some of their relatives.

The National Prosecutor’s Office has started a preliminary investigation in which Vizcarra and Mazzetti and Astete have been included so far.

In addition, the government has created an investigative commission in the Ministry of Health, and Francisco Sagasti, the current president, has promised to fire the officials who received the vaccine out of proper order, which was intended to be first administered to frontline healthcare personnel.

The list of those vaccinated was turned over by Cayetano Heredia University to Congress, the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Attorney General’s Office, and the investigative commission of the Ministry of Health, after Vizcarra admitted that he was vaccinated when he was president and long before the country had a contract with Sinopharm to purchase the vaccine.

Sinopharm began the clinical trials of its vaccine in Peru in September 2020 with 12,000 volunteers. One group received the vaccine, and another a placebo.

Additionally, the Chinese laboratory sent 3,200 doses of vaccine to be administered to healthcare personnel related to the clinical trial. However, the list presented by Cayetano Heredia University revealed that this lot was used in violation of the established priorities.

Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura, a member of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, said during Mass Feb. 17, “Let us also do penance for the cases of corruption that we painfully see being discovered day by day in our country right in the midst of the epidemic, now with the shameful scandal of preferential vaccines.”

“Getting vaccinated first is an affront to the thousands of infected brothers and especially to the tens of thousands of deaths because of Covid-19 in our homeland, which has plunged so many Peruvian families into pain and mourning,” Archbishop Eguren said.

“It is an affront to all those who from day one are on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. Corruption causes great harm in society and is like a cancer that infects and contaminates all sectors of social life,” he said.

Peru has had more than 1.25 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, and more than 44,000 deaths. The pandemic has overwhelmed the healthcare system in the country, and the crisis has been aggravated by the shortage of oxygen for patients.